There is battle underway in New York. With the virus surging toward its peak I am starting to feel like I am living through something akin to what I know of “The Blitz” in the early 1940’s in England, during World War II. A terrifying reign of terror, coming relentlessly at me with no conscience, is what I am feeling. I watch as brave people hold the line and others try to contribute as best they can. People are emerging to whom we owe much. Doctors for sure. Also the delivery guys, most of them Mexican, on their padded bicycles; the cashiers at Citarella and Food Emporium markets. My doormen Javier, Willie, Larry and Tom. Yeah, I am under siege, and the only weapons are a healthcare system renowned for the quality of its research and advances in the most exciting areas of science. But we also have a community hospital system and its challenges, as the world is seeing, are profound. We are also armed now with extreme civic cooperation and access to the rest of the world online. These are useful, but they are inadequate for the real job ahead.
Most of the sirens in my neighborhood tonight carry gasping COVID-19 patients to overcrowded, understaffed ERs at New York Presbyterian and Lenox Hill hospitals. There are medical tents rising in Central Park, although I have not seen them. My brief walk along the avenue revealed only the pink blossoms of the trees celebrating the arrival of Spring. Both hospitals are within walking distance of my apartment (located next door to Trump Palace). We learned a few nights ago that the head of the NY Police Department’s Anti-Terror Department is in Lenox Hill with the disease. And this morning we learned that Harlem-based Detective Cedric Dixon (48 years old) passed away as had one of my favorite playwrights, Terrence McNally.Read more
In this conversation, ICF Co-Founder Lou Zacharilla discusses COVID-19 with Dublin, Ohio CIO Doug McCollough.
So much for the death of distance. Now it’s “keep your distance or get sick and maybe die.”
Social distancing, a new word and the emotional equivalent of a prison sentence for the innocent, descended on us like a sudden iron gate. Here in New York City, where I live, work and, so far, breathe we are the global epicenter for this Michael Jordan of viral diseases. So, I find myself isolated and weirdly unable to do my most simple, pleasurable social transactions and spiritual exercises. It is not losing access to the big stuff that incarcerates me here. Yeah, the restaurants are closed and the theaters are dark, but the fact that I cannot comfortably take an elevator to the lobby of my own building to talk baseball and gather frivolous gossip with my doormen Willie and Javier is killing me.
Nor can I walk down Third Avenue to get tea (and flirt) with the bright, overqualified workers at David’s Tea. This is a total shame because most are big followers of ICF and listen to our podcasts and inquire daily about our work.
And as lunchtime rolls around, I cannot stroll toward Central Park and Hunter College in the early afternoon to talk about Middle East affairs and small business with my entrepreneurial friend from Iraq, whose Halal food carts dish out the best chicken and lamb gyros on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. He has been expanding his empire on wheels the past two years and now owns additional carts, including one that produces amazing smoothies and healthy juices. In between sliding chopped pieces of scented chicken and herbs onto pita bread, he celebrates the reality of the American Dream. That dream is laced with the dread of a nightmare now.Read more
At the beginning of the New Year in 2020 we were looking at the threat of war rising out of the rhetoric coming out of Washington and from Tehran. I had a flight planned to travel to Kuwait in January to give a keynote address as part of the Kuwait Public Policy Center’s Lecture Series at the General Secretariat of the Supreme Council for Planning & Development in Kuwait. See: https://lnkd.in/esEVzzn. As the tensions grew and missiles were fired that downed Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 on Jan. 8, I debated my flight to Kuwait, which neighbors Iran on the Persian Gulf. Ultimately, I made the trip via Cairo and spent an uneventful, but very enlightening, week in Kuwait. Upon my return we immediately had another crisis to deal with – whether or not the ICF Institute-organized ICF TOP7 event in Taoyuan, Taiwan would continue or not due to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus in Wuhan, China.Read more